Massive Connecticut Catfish Obliterates State Record and Could Be World Record

by Matthew Memrick

A massive white catfish caught in Connecticut in August could be a state and world record.

However, long gone is the physical evidence of the 21.3-pound fish caught on Aug. 21. You can blame an innocent mistake for that. We’ll go into that later.

The Associated Press reported Connecticut Fish and Wildlife officials say the eaten catfish would have quickly broken the state record of 12.7 pounds. 

“We were just sitting back and drinking a couple of beers, and next thing you know, my reel just starts screaming like I had a 30-pound striper on there,” Coventry resident Ben Tomkunas told the Hartford Courant.

Tomkunas told the newspaper about his four-hour night fishing from a friend’s dock. He caught what he thought could be a carp just before midnight on his ball-shaped “boilie” bait. 

Friend Chris Braga located a digital scale to weigh the beast. He also snapped a quick photo of the catfish’s record-breaking weight. It was more than three feet long.

Fishing For A Record

Tomkunas contacted state wildlife officials to report the catfish. On Sept. 8, they posted “Holy White Catfish Batman!” and verified the shattering of the state record.

“With multiple sets of expert eyes, we confirm the new state record,” the department told the Brookfield Daily Voice

That record of 12 pounds, 12 ounces went to John L. Shatas in 1999. The man caught it in Middletown on the Connecticut River. 

According to International Game Fish Association records, the world mark is 19.3 pounds for a 2005 California catfish.

In Connecticut, the particular fish is one of several species in the New England state. Officials there took detailed steps to make sure it wasn’t a channel catfish. Blue catfish or catfish native to Asis can grow in much larger sizes.

Many out-of-stater fisher folks tried to say their state had more giant catfish, yapping for DNA testing on the state wildlife Facebook page. But did they have the right specs for the white catfish?

Facebook commenter Charlie Brown wanted to know if white catfish had been found on that late before for his own reasons.

The wildlife officer behind the post answered in the affirmative.

“Yes,” the wildlife officer said while posting a link to a .pdf document. “We previously found them during an electrofishing survey in 2016.”

Working Hard On The Record

The 25-year-old Tomkunas is angling hard for that world record. He’s going to submit a claim anyway. He also told the newspaper that the fish was long gone after giving it to his grandfather the day after catching it.

The Delray Beach, Florida-based international organization has a link on its website about records.

If Tomkunas goes for the All-Tackle record, he’ll have to meet three criteria. 

First, the fish has to be a valid species with a recognized scientific name. 

Second, the Connecticut man will have to submit his fish photos and weight with the application. 

Finally, the fish has to be “trophy-sized.”